Jan 25, 2011

Report: Manhattan Half Marathon - 2:33

I love half-marathons for much of the same reason as Ronda Sundermeier (Who has an awesome blog that you should follow)
"I went all out on a flat 1/2 marathon when I haven't run anything over 6 miles on road since at least mid-summer. The absence of any speed work was just icing on the cake or more like pain in the ass. . Ultra running does have its perks. You can get away with a few stupid stunts. The weather was perfect, the company was superb and the punishment was earned. There's no way to get around running a 1/2 all out without suffering. It's the perfect distance to create pain and test grit"

That is how I approached the Hook Mountain Half Marathon last April, and how I intended to approach the Manhattan Half Marathon last Sunday. In April, my body complied - but on Sunday, not so much.

Manhattan Half Marathon - Central Park, NY - January 22, 2011

The story for this race was the cold. The temperature at the start was 14ºF, making this the coldest race I've ever run.


The Manhattan Half Marathon (not the same as the NYC Half Marathon, which also takes place in Manhattan) is the first of the New York Road Runner's Half Marathon Grand Prix series, which consists of 5 Halves, every year, each held in a different borough. My first half marathon, in fact, was the Brooklyn part of this series, way back in 2001. In 2006, before I ran my first full marathon, I ran the Staten Island Half. Now, in 2011, I ran the Manhattan Half Marathon. This coincidental 5-year interval is a coincidence, I will most likely not wait until 2016 to run the Bronx or Queens half-marathons.

Manhattan's half marathon course is very simple: two laps around Central Park, plus a mile. My bib number indicated that there were nearly 8000 registrants, although a large number didn't show up, presumably due to the weather; the corrals were not even close to full. As it happens, 4358 people finished the race, enough that it took a full 7 minutes to cross the starting line. (I was wrong with my guess of 7000.)

Since all my training lately has been below 10:00 per mile, I was hoping to average a 10:30 per mile pace during this race. I thought 10:30 would be sufficiently fast to give me that "pain and test grit" without destroying me for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, my fatbody didn't agree - it was immediately apparent that this was an overly optimistic pace, and I found myself unable to keep it below even 11 minutes per mile for most of the race.

I did manage to run the entire first 9.5 miles or so, finally taking a walking (and bathroom) break at the beginning of the "Great Hill", a decent-sized climb in the northwest corner of Central Park. See the pace chart:

MileTimeInterval lengthInterval Time

As you can see, my pace time took a visible bump in the mile that ends with the great hill. Part of that is waiting for the porta-potty, but I wasn't exactly power-walking up that hill either; I was done. Crashed early, it seems. I resumed a run at the summit and managed to go another mile or so without walking. I was still walking when I went by the starting line, and invited Joey to do the last mile with me. I guess he wasn't feeling too well, because he didn't want to run fast at all and took a bunch of walking breaks, which explains mile 13.

Finishing with Joey!
My overall pace per mile was 12:14, nearly two minutes off the pace I hoped for, and my finish was 17 minutes off my PR.

Oh well, not every race can be a life-changing experience. But I did pick up some ice on my head!

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